Joseph Jones said beating the Ryerson Rams wasn't as easy as it looked.
He was probably being a bit of a generous host.
Jones and the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Saturday put on a basketball clinic, outpacing their opponent by 41 points, improving to 4-0 with a 95-54 victory at the Thunderdome.
"We just set our team defence on staying solid, no gambles. Coach has been telling us all week that we've got to be sound, without gambling. We've got to stay disciplined. That's been our main goal, just to stay disciplined as a team," said Jones, who hit five of six three-pointers on his way to a 19-point effort, a game that saw all 12 players dressed put up at least two points for Lakehead.
"We might come out a little slow every now and then, but once we get into our flow, we just stick to our game plan and keep executing. As long as we execute our game plan and do what we're supposed to do and follow what coach is saying, there's no team in the country who can stop us."
The No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens might have a thing or two to say about that, but that's next weekend, the much anticipated duel between last year's OUA championship finalists on everyone's minds.
Well, perhaps not Scott Morrison's, at least not until the final buzzer sounded.
Morrison, who has guided the Wolves to back-to-back national championship appearances, said his troops did almost everything he expects from them on this night.
"I thought offensively we established the paint, the post presence right away, and that's something we've struggled doing."
Of course it helps when the guy in the paint wearing the blue and gold happens to be Yoosrie Salhia. The Toronto product scored the Wolves first eight points, all from underneath the net, as the two teams battled to a 15-15 draw after the opening 10 minutes.
It was the second quarter that saw LU start to establish its dominance at both ends of the court.
Lakehead went on an 18-6 run to start the period and opened a 14-point halftime lead, Ben Johnson leading the way with nine in the quarter.
Johnson cooled off the rest of the way, but after Jahmal Jones scored a bucket early in the third, the Wolves were off and running again, putting up 16 straight points. This time it was Greg Carter providing the spark, scoring six of eight before Jones, known affectionately as JJ to his teammates, started raining threes, nailing a trio of them before the quarter was out.
"The main goal is just to stay as a team, to make sure nobody gets out of control and to keep everybody in the flow of the game, not just one person," Jones said, ading it was nice to find his range, a night after struggling from long distance.
"I've been off a little bit and I get down on myself, but my teammates just kept encouraging me to shoot, and as long as I've got the confidence I'm going to keep shooting it, as long as they keep motivating me."
Morrison said despite coming of the bench, Jones has an important role to play with the Thunderwolves.
"JJ's a big factor for us. He brings an energy off the bench, usually at a time when guys are getting a little tired," Morrison said. "We have a strong guard core that we start, but with JJ we can put him on the floor and not lose anything.
"He struggled with his shot the last two or three games, but by and large this season he's shot the ball well and worked hard in the offseason and it's really paying off for him."
Salhia finished with 13 points and 10 boards, while Venzal Russell posted 11 points and Greg Carter had eight and added four steals to his OUA-leading total.
Jordan Gauthier led the Rams (1-3) with 15 points. Ryerson only managed to post 21 second-half points, after matching the Wolves with 15 in the first quarter.
LU hosts Ottawa (2-2) next Friday night. The Gee Gees found their way back to .500 on Saturday, beating Western 84-57.
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